Beyond the Business Card: In-Person Networking Success

In person networking conceptWe often talk about copywriting to successfully reach your audience, and we must also remember other effective ways to reach out. Networking is one of the basics to meeting potential clients, referral sources, resource partners, and collaborators.

We are fortunate that business networking can now occur online and in person. I know that some professionals find it uncomfortable to position themselves in a crowd of strangers while others are eager but find it unrewarding. Today, we’ll talk about some strategies that can help in both instances.

In-person networking
Traditional in-person events can include professional association events, trade shows, industry conferences, specialty groups, masterminds, sporting events, and happy hours. They all provide valuable opportunities for business leaders to meet face-to-face in a comfortable setting. The goal is to enjoy yourself while having meaningful conversations. Here are a few tips:

  • If you are new to networking or feeling shy about starting conversations, attend the event with a friend to feel more at ease. The friend can introduce you and help avoid those formerly awkward moments.
  • Look for other people who are standing alone and start a conversation with them. They might be as hesitant as you are in approaching new people. Once you’re more comfortable with the situation, you’ll want to move around a bit rather than spending too much time with one person.
  • Be sure to follow up with those you really want to meet again. You’ve got the business card you requested. Now, give them a call or send an email asking for a 20−30 minute chat. You can also send them a LinkedIn connection request and mention that you enjoyed meeting them at the event.

Conversation starters
You’ll have better results if you ask open-ended questions. If asking Yes/No questions, it’s more difficult to keep a conversation going. After introducing yourself and getting their name, here are a few starters that work well…

  • “What—or who—inspired you to attend this event?”
  • “Where else do you network or meet other business professionals?”
  • “Who would you most like to meet today/tonight?” (Try to make a connection for them.)
  • “What do your customers like best about your services.”

Best advice for networking
No selling! No one wants to be sold to at a networking event. Relax and go with the goal of meeting new people; finding out who they are, what they do, and whether you have interest in learning more to possibly build a business relationship.

If you’d like specific ideas on networking groups and events, please reach out. I’m happy to share information that might be a good fit for you.